By Elvia Diaz
Conservatives are seizing the recent drug-related killing spree at the Mexican border city of Agua Prieta to fuel their anti-immigrant narrative.
But forget their motives. They’re right in sounding the alarm over the brutal violence that has swept Mexico since 2006, when then-President Felipe Calderon waged a war against the cartels.
This week, a gun battle left nine people dead in Agua Prieta in the Mexican state of Sonora, just across from the city of Douglas, Arizona. The incident made headlines in conservative news media like Fox News and Breitbart, a far-right site that appeals to President Donald Trump's supporters.
Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels warned of public violence south of the border, while Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey seized the moment to do the same.
Their drug-violence warnings are spot on
“There is no greater priority than protecting the safety of Arizonans,” Ducey tweeted about the Agua Prieta shootout. “We are monitoring closely, and I’ve instructed DPS to stand ready to assist our local and federal partners as needed.”
No doubt these Republicans are using the shootout as a political ploy to enhance their agenda. Dannels advocates for stricter security along the U.S.-Mexico border and supports Trump’s border wall.
Ducey has lately been aligning with Trump’s anti-Mexico stance. He supported Trump’s threats to shut down the border and slap tariffs on Mexican goods to force the country to curtail illegal migration from Central America.
I’m no fan of these Republicans’ anti-Mexico crusade. It unnecessarily hurts the economy on both sides of the border and innocent migrants legitimately seeking refuge from poor and violent-ridden countries.
But Dannels and Ducey are spot on in underscoring the drug-related violence that has left hundreds of thousands dead since 2006. The nine killed at Agua Prieta, some found with assault rifles and vests, are just the tip of the iceberg.
AMLO's good intentions won't solve this
Mexico has been riddled with killing sprees that are fueled by drug cartels, human smuggling and deep government corruption.
And there is no end in sight. Bloomberg reported that murders in Mexico spiked nearly 10% in the first three months of the year. These deaths surged to 8,493 from January through March, compared with 7,750 a year earlier, according to the news outlet.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador rose to power promising to boost living conditions, curb violence and end government corruption that has left most murders unsolved.
But the populist president, commonly known as AMLO, should know by now that he needs more than good intentions to deal any serious blow to the drug cartels and the country’s corrupt government.
Officials in the United States must stop shrugging off Mexico’s violence. Until now, they’ve been able to turn a blind eye largely because Mexicans are killing each other to get their drugs into this country.
We can't keep turning a blind eye
In other words, the violence hasn’t really spilled over to the United States — yet. But America is facing a drug addiction epidemic.
And guess where most of the drugs are coming from? Mexico, of course. Drug cartels take in between $19 billion and $29 billion annually from drug sales in the United States, according to CNN.
Government officials at all levels would be wise to curb drug use in the United States and find productive ways to help Mexico root out the drug cartels. What we have instead is hyperpoliticized rhetoric that merely fuels illicit behavior and which in turn prompts further migration to the United States.
Dannels, Ducey and other Trump supporters may be seeking to score political points by highlighting Mexico’s violence, but they’re not wrong.
What others are saying
Marc A. Thiessen, The Washington Post: "The president deserves credit for forcing a reluctant Mexican government to act. He was able to do so because the administration in Mexico City knew he was willing to pull the tariff trigger. It knew that Republicans on Capitol Hill would not overturn his action. And it knew that its country was vulnerable — because while tariffs would certainly have hurt the U.S. economy, they would devastate Mexico’s, which contracted in the first quarter of 2019."
Jorge Ramos, The New York Times: "But the Mexican National Guard should be focusing on fighting crime at home, not on stopping harmless Central Americans from reaching the United States — particularly when 14,000 Mexicans have been murdered since President López Obrador took office last year. Among those killed was the journalist Norma Sarabia. She was gunned down on June 11 outside her home in the state of Tabasco, the sixth reporter murdered in Mexico this year."
Jean Guerrero, The New York Times: "Still, Mr. Trump hasn’t let go of the distorting talking point that drugs and criminals are pouring through more remote stretches of border, and he harps on a wall as the best way to stop them. And with many of the newly empowered House Democrats casting the entirety of Mr. Trump’s border security efforts as an abomination, a compromise deal has become a third rail, if not an impossibility, in the coming year as election campaigning takes precedence."
What our readers are saying
President Trump is the first one in years to even attempt to do something to solve illegal immigration.
— Ken Wade
Maybe we should stop supplying guns to the cartels.
— Cory Losenicky
This is where we disagree; Trump and his supporters are not on an “anti-Mexico crusade.” We are pro-legal immigration and anti-drug cartel controlled borders.
This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: It's about time we listened to Trump supporters' warnings about Mexico: Today's talker